Friday, June 1

Panama Coast Guard Arrested for Stealing Seized Cocaine

This is the type of story that fits with many people's impression of Panama.
Panama detains ex-Coast Guard chief - PANAMA CITY 29 May – Panama has arrested Ricardo Traad, former head of the country’s coast guard agency the National Maritime Service (NMS), and Edilberto Luna, current NMS chief of operations, for money-laundering. Traad and Luna, detained on Saturday, are accused of taking a tonne of cocaine from a Panamanian-flagged general cargo ship, which was arrested in January 2006. - Lloydslist (Subscription)
The cocaine was found by the US Coast Guard and the vessel was then turned over to Panama. I suspect because it was Panamanian-Flagged. Not only was the cocaine missing, so was some of the legitimate cargo.
A ton of cocaine was confiscated during the operation, but another ton, which crew members said was hidden, was never found, nor were the 1,000 tons of scraps the ship was carrying. - Prensa Latina
Who arranged the unloaded of the cargo? You might be able to walk down the gangway with a suitcase full of coke, but you are going to have to make an extra effort to walk off with a ton of it. Perhaps the theft of the regular cargo was merely a way of concealing the theft of the cocaine.

How did these two officials know that there was more cocaine on the ship? I doubt these two would have taken it had the crew told them as surely the crew would tell everybody who interrogated them had they bothered to tell anyone. Did they just have a very successful scavenger hunt? Do they have a connection to the vessel in question or do they have connections to the drug couriers who tipped them off to the additional drugs onboard?

It is great that they have been caught. Since this is highly embarrassing to the Panamanians, I suspect that these two will eventually receive long prison sentences.

I imagine that this would make a great movie, provided the true story ever comes out.

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